Zaka East villagers launch peace gala ahead of by-election

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By Tonderai Saharo

THE usually serene and remote villages of Zaka East in Masvingo will soon come to life when the annual peace and tolerance gala returns to one of the most politically volatile parts of the province which braces for a by-election.

The seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF legislator Caston Ringisai last month.

Jostling for the seat is already underway from both political parties although dates of the by-election are yet to be announced.

The festivities are part of the villagers’ own initiative to bring the people from the constituency together despite their political differences.

The gala will allow the constituency to deliberate on matters affecting the rural area.

One of the organisers of the gala, Talent Chivange said everything was in order for the festivities which commence in the last week of July.

“This area used to witness a lot of politically motivated violence in the past elections and we decided as a community two years ago to come up with peace tournaments in an effort to build bridges amongst ourselves.

“We have been coordinating such events in the past elections and as a community, we are slowly seeing the benefits of holding such events in our area,” Chivange said.

He said the month-long festivities will see youths engaging in debates on topics centred on nation and peace building while renowned musician Nicholas Zakaria will offer entertainment.

A number of local teams drawn from across the constituency will be competing for honours on the soccer field.

“We have always used these events and programmes to unite the people of Zaka East. Our young people will also be preoccupied with this, what I term social development rather than spending time engaging in irresponsible behaviour. We also want this to be a networking platform among stakeholders,” he said.

Due to past experiences, the constituency has been found to be a political hotspot.

Masvingo saw the worst forms of political violence during the run-up to the bloody 2008 presidential run-off election with many opposition supporters tortured and some killed.